OL 012: Orlando Vacation Souvenirs and Where to Find Them
Where to Find Your Favorite Orlando Vacation Souvenirs
Thank you for listening to The Orlando Local Show. We're digging into Orlando vacation souvenirs in this episode. You already know that you can find them in the airport shops and at theme parks, but there are other locations in town filled with souvenirs about Orlando and specific theme parks.
Of course, not everyone wants to shop for the same stuff. We've included some local towns that are great for walking and shopping where you may find some craft items that have a different spin on your Orlando vacation memories.
Don't forget that you can make some interesting things from the photos you take on your Orlando vacation. Check out the link below for GelaSkins to turn your photos into custom souvenirs.
Thank you for listening. We appreciate you and look forward to serving you in the next episode of The Orlando Local Show.
THE ORLANDO LOCAL SHOW
William: Welcome to the Orlando Local show, episode number twelve.
Hi, thank you for joining us today. My name is William Beem and I know a great many things because I went to Sky Lake Community College.
Lee: I’m Lee Beem. I know fewer things, but my husband keeps me right.
William: Alright, on today’s episode we are going to be talking about Orlando vacation souvenirs and where to find them. It’s not like Orlando has any shortage of souvenirs!
Lee: They’re in your face.
William: They’re in your face from the moment you get off the airplane, or even if you’re driving in, the first place you stop is going to probably have some souvenirs.
Let’s back up a little bit. Why do you want or even need some souvenirs?
Lee: It’s something that you keep with you forever that takes you back to remember the fun times that you had.
William: There’s a whole industry about souvenirs and different types of souvenirs or the things that you can get. And some people look at it and say, “Oh, it’s just crap. I don’t need that stuff in my house.”
But for others and I guess myself included, I have got a thing for fridge magnets. Every place I go I’m going to pick up a fridge magnet and even if I’ve been there before and gotten one, because each trip is different. The side of our refrigerator is just about two thirds decorated with places I’ve been.
Lee: Yes and there’s a rule. They have to be ceramic and they have to be places that we’ve actually been.
William: That’s my rule. I don’t want things up there where I haven’t been or you and Tové haven’t been. So long as someone in the family has been there it gets to go up.
I like ceramic ones. That’s just more a matter of taste. There are some that are made of wood or plastic. Actually, I take that back. I do have a couple from Utah that are made out of stones.
Lee: Yeah, but it kind of goes with ceramic.
William: Yes, I don’t want some cheap plastic material or rubber thing up there. I like having the memory. Every once in a while I just walk to the fridge and stop by there and look and think, wow! Look at all the places I’ve been. Then I get memories that kind of come back, so that’s really what you want from your souvenirs. It’s not just memories of your vacation experience, but it’s reminders of good times.
Lee: And sometimes you want them as gifts as well. Sometimes you have memories with your family or friends and who just aren’t going to have the opportunity to travel for a number of reasons.
William: Yeah it could be something that you share with people.
Lee: I always used to take something back for my family. Key chains and fridge magnets are great because you can slip them into your carry-on. They don’t take a lot of space, they don’t weight anything and they are not likely to break.
William: That’s true. And it’s not just that. There is a ton of different kinds of souvenirs. The most basic thing you are going to find people buying here is T shirts.
Lee: OK, see I’m not a T shirt person. Tové liked her T shirts. I am a coffee mug person!
William: I’m actually wearing a Disney T shirt right now.
William: But it’s not a character T shirt. It’s one from Main Street.
Lee: I like it. I actually really like that shirt.
William: It is a nice shirt.
Lee: I don’t wear T shirts. I’m a tank top or long sleeved shirt … they must be long sleeves or no sleeves for me. But my little souvenir weaknesses were tote bags, coffee mugs and key chains. I bought some fridge magnets, but the coffee mugs and tote bags were my thing.
William: Well, I think these break down into different kinds of things. There are things that you wear, like T shirts, baseball caps and I’m even going to throw in towels, like beach towels.
Lee: I was thinking about towels.
William: You’ve got those. I don’t necessarily know about shorts or see anybody wearing souvenir shorts. Maybe a costume …
Lee: Oh, no. Remember when we went to Sanibel, we were having a look and I said, “That’s a cute pair of shorts.” And because it had a little Sanibel badge it was $100 for these linen shorts! I thought suddenly they didn’t look so great anymore.
William: Not at that price, no.
Lee: I couldn’t believe it. They were just very plain beach shorts.
William: OK, so you’ve got things that you can wear. Then you’ve got things for around the house. For me the fridge magnets come under that, coffee mugs and I guess travel cups. There is a ton of those out there as well.
Lee: I’ve got a souvenir one from here as well.
William: But you know, one of the other things we noticed is there is art work. Everything from posters to full on ceramic statues or fine art prints you can find.
William: There is just a ton of different things you can put around the house.
Key chains and tote bags, I think those are the kinds of things that you are going to take with you. Maybe the travel cups fit into that kind of thing.
So stuff you wear, stuff you take with you and stuff you leave around the house.
Lee: You know what else I used to like buying was the very specific photo frames. So it might be an Orlando general one, or it could be from a theme park or a particular attraction and I liked the photo frame that was themed around it and we could take our photos and put them in there. I had a lot of photo frames I used to like to use to display my pictures.
William: The nice part about photo frames is usually some of them will have the year on them. You want to remember that this is our trip for 2016 or this is our trip from whatever year it was. Others are very specific about the place or a specific spot in a park or location that you get.
Lee: And photo albums. Those are often – you can also get the year specific ones as well. I like my photo albums. Scrapbooks; I’ve got a lot of scrapbooks and photo albums.
William: Now there are other things that I don’t necessarily know if they are souvenirs or collectable. You know those little Disney Vinylmation things? They creep me out.
Lee Tové collects them. Or she was.
William: Are those souvenirs or are those a different kind of collectable thing?
Lee: I think for her they were souvenirs. She collects them, but she doesn’t collect them to trade or do anything with them.
William: Because I know, for Disney at least, they have also got all the pins.
Lee: Yes, we also … We’ve got hundreds of pins!
William: I’m kind of on the fence as whether that’s a collectible thing for down the road, or is it just because you like a particular brand? Or is that a souvenir? And I guess you’re right. It could be a little bit of both.
Lee: It’s a bit of all three. My Disney pins are actually souvenirs. I also have Disney pins that I got because I knew Tové would want them. She’s done some trading. She keeps aside some special ones where she’ll spend a bit more money and she keeps those; those are kind of souvenirs and collectables. There is a bit of a gray line between the two categories. You get pin traders and you get pin collectors. People who are into the trading pins are quite specific. They know where they fall in the categories.
William: Another category of souvenirs is not just stuff you wear, stuff you keep around the house and stuff you take with you; there is the whole collectable category, too.
Lee: It’s the trading thing that is an experience. It’s a social thing.
William: OK. And you know what? It goes even beyond that. There are phone cases you can make. There are things that you can take your photos and make all sorts of things out of them. We’ll talk about this a little bit later, but you can even make bedspreads out of your photos.
Lee: You can do all kinds of things, but something that I never did was I never actually used the host … how do I put this? For example, if it was a Disney vacation I never used Disney’s own website to make the stuff because I could get it so much cheaper and have more control over my products by making the products elsewhere so it might be worth looking around.
William: That’s a good point and that’s the next thing that we kind of want to go over. Where are the places that you find the souvenirs in Orlando?
We are going to start off with probably the most expensive place you can go and that’s inside of the theme park itself. They are going to have the newest collections out and if you are looking for something that just came out and you’ve got to have it, well, you can get it but you are going to pay a premium price for it.
Lee: The other thing with those is they sometimes have them only in the theme parks. There is certain merchandise that you cannot get outside the theme parks. So for example, Downtown Disney (Disney Springs), there are things that you won’t get there but you’ll get them inside the Disney parks. I think similarly with Universal there are things where you have to have a park entry to be able to access that merchandise.
William: And that kind of merchandise often ties in with something. Like let’s say there’s a new movie coming out. I don’t care if it’s going to be a new Frozen movie or a new Avengers movie or new Star Wars movie. The latest and greatest stuff, if you want to have that, that’s going to be inside the theme park.
But if you can wait about six months then you can head off to the factory outlet malls.
Lee: That’s where I used to like to shop.
William: There are plenty of factory outlet malls in Orlando. But there are three of them that are roughly in what I’ll refer to as the tourist or visitor areas.
One of them is the Orlando Outlet shops at Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores. That one is probably the closest to Downtown Disney or excuse me, Disney Springs.
Lee: Yes, you’ve got to get it right. I know old habits die hard!
William: Hey, I still remember when it was Lake Buena Vista. And just Lake Buena Vista.
OK, so this one is on – we’ll put this in the show notes – it’s 15657 South Apopka Vineland Road and if that means nothing to you, don’t worry. It means nothing to me either. All I know is when I’m driving down I-4 I see it off to the side and think, oh there it is!
Lee: It’s not that far if you want to get a taxi across.
William: You didn’t go to this one when you were staying on site?
Lee: We considered it a few times, but it didn’t seem to have enough range for us to justify the trip out there. I know there are people who are big fans of it. So it wasn’t a knock on the place, but there were other things that we wanted to do that were non souvenir related and it would have meant having to go elsewhere as well.
William: The nice thing about the factory outlet malls is they are not just souvenirs. You’ll find a lot of brands out there, from clothing to jewelry to restaurants and a number of things. So the nice part about that is you’re not just being put into an area just to give you gift shop stuff.
For this one there is a Disney store out there and they will have things that are, what? Six months, do you think? About six months and older?
Lee: Some of them are older, yes. But the things kind of come around. It’s discontinued lines that you aren’t currently finding in the parks anymore.
William: Exactly. So the stuff didn’t sell out in the park or it lasted beyond its season maybe.
Lee: Excess merchandise.
William: But you can still find them in multiple sizes and for a lot less money than you are going to find in the park. I mean, a T shirt that would sell for like $35 in the park you might pick up for $8 in the factory outlet store.
Lee: Oh, easily.
William: And of course it’s not just Disney stuff, it’s not just Sea World or Universal Studio stuff. There are going to be other things that are branded more for Orlando vacations. You might find things out there for Kennedy Space Center or some of the smaller attractions around here. Or just stuff that says Orlando.
Lee: We really liked that as well.
William: Exactly. Not everybody is coming here just for Walt Disney World or just for Universal Studios. So if you’re going to try and have an Orlando vacation and you are going to see more than just theme parks, you want something that represents that kind of vacation.
Lee: Yes you do.
William: OK, the next one that we are looking at is going to be Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets. These things, to me, honestly a lot of these are kind of the same. Once you’ve gone to a Premium Outlet store, you see a lot of the same shops.
Lee: Well there are two of these.
William: It’s really about the location.
Lee: They used to have different names. This was just, I believe it the “Vineland” wasn’t there. I believe it was just the Premium Outlets? And the one at the top of International Drive had a different name, which now escapes my little brain.
William: The one on International Drive is International Premium Outlets. It’s the same one as the Vineland Premium Outlets, at least as far as the same ownership and so forth. So it’s really about the place of where it is. The one that we are talking about on International Drive is kind of at the intersection … it’s closer to Universal Studios. I guess that’s the easiest was to put it.
William: And the Lake Buena Vista one, like I said, is closer to Disney Springs.
The one that is Orlando Premium is kind of a bit in between, so depending on where you’re going, it’s really a matter of which one is closest to you.
Some of the stores are going to be a little bit different between them and we’ll put links to their websites so you can look in the directories and see if you think there is a store that you want to find, but generally speaking I think that there is a Disney Store in each of them.
Lee: It’s Character Warehouse.
William: Character Warehouse. So you can find those extra things that are kind of past their prime. But they are still quality materials. They are still good stuff.
The other things in the Premium Outlets are going to be the same. They are not necessarily what outlet stores used to be – kind of like seconds or things that didn’t pass quality. Nowadays, it’s more like these are discontinued items. So you are still getting good quality. It’s just that this is not the latest and greatest thing that they have.
The thing I like about the outlet stores is, one, the prices are better. Two, the location, even though maybe it’s not convenient if you are staying on property at one of the resorts at a theme park environment, you are going to have to get a cab or a car to get out to them. There may be some shuttle buses out there, but you are in a nice, clean, safe environment.
Lee: Yes you are.
William: And you can spend some time looking around. You can find things that are not just souvenirs, but if you want to do some shopping … who goes on vacation and doesn’t do a little bit of shopping?
Lee: We did sometimes. In the earlier visits; the earlier years, we did. After a while we just didn’t want to buy much stuff anymore.
William: No, I get that, but also remember that coming over from the UK there are people coming here and they want to buy some things. Like Tové liked her American Eagle shirts.
Lee: She did and the clothing is much cheaper here. I don’t know what the exchange rate is now, but when we started coming over we were getting two dollars for a pound. And then the prices were less anyways. So I think I went into a Levi store at one of these outlet malls in 2008 or 2009 and they were selling 501 and some other boot cut style jeans, which are my kind of thing. And they were selling them for $12 for a pair of jeans. I went and bought a suitcase at the luggage store; a cheap suitcase and literally filled it with jeans and took them back.
William: It was cheaper to come over here, buy a suitcase, fill them with jeans and pay the baggage fee.
Lee: We actually flew first class that year. We got an upgrade so the stuff went through and I think at the time we were allowed three bags each.
William: Very good!
Lee: Yeah. It worked out that time. We never got quite so lucky after that.
William: Alright, so the advantages of the outlet malls, they are safe, they are clean, they’ve got good prices. The disadvantage is you are going to have to drive a little bit and also they can be very crowded.
William: Particularly if you are at the holiday season in December. They are going to be slam packed full. We’ve been there during that time.
Lee: Oh, day after Christmas!
William: Oh, yeah. Why were we dumb enough to go there the day after Christmas?
Lee: I don’t remember. I think we had promised Tové and then realized, hang on a second! But we had already made the promise and I remember us sitting in the car trying to just get into the parking lot and I turned around and said to you, “Valet. I’ll pay.”
William: OK, the next category of places you can look at are going to be gift shops and these are individually owned shops and you are going to find them ranging in size. Some of them are going to be really large and have all sorts of things. I am a bit more hesitant about gift shops, personally. But let me tell you what you are looking at.
You are talking about gift shops that are going to be in the airport and of course, you’re going to pay a premium price for any airport, any tourist stuff. You are always going to be able to find something that says Orlando, but you are also going to pay a good price for it.
Lee: Some of the things are not too bad if you are willing to look around. But yes, it’s hit or miss. Don’t count on getting something ….
William: And there are going to be different stores. Orlando International Airport is going to have a Disney store inside of it and they are going to have other theme park shops inside. Like if you go to a newspaper store there are always going to be a couple of key chains and fridge magnets somewhere in there.
Now the next place I want to mention is called International Drive, which has turned into a really long road. When I was growing up here International Drive was pretty much between Sandlake Road and Kirkman. And that was the prime part of International Drive. That was my first job and that’s where I worked.
The hotels that are there, and Wet and Wild, which I guess is shutting down this year, and all sorts of gift shops were there.
International Drive has expanded. You go on the other side of Sandlake Road and then you see a bunch of restaurants and you see more gift shops there and of course, that’s getting down to the area where the Orange County Convention Center is. So all of the hotels are going to have a little gift shop inside and then there are going to be gift shops along the way where you can find Orlando or theme park based stuff.
The other main area that you might want to look at is on US-192 and that is one of the major roads that leads into Walt Disney World. To me this is kind of getting into very inexpensive stuff, but it’s also going to be …. it’s not as nice of a neighborhood, let me put it that way.
Lee: Yeah, you need to be aware. If you are not familiar with the area, you still want to be aware as a visitor.
William: I’m not trying to imply that it can be really dangerous. I mean even International Drive at night, like three or four in the morning, there have been some occasional problems. It’s not a crime ridden area, but there are occasionally people out there …
Lee: It’s a Be Aware area.
William: US-192 I would be more aware and I probably really wouldn’t want to be out there at three in the morning looking for a souvenir.
Lee: No, probably not.
William: But it’s going to be more affordable; but it’s also going to reflect the same kind of quality. The quality, in my opinion, is a bit lower and it’s stuff that you are not necessarily sure where it came from.
Lee: That’s a good point.
William: Well if you want to put together something that is an Orlando based souvenir, anybody can do it. And that is kind of another one of the things that we can turn around and look at.
There are some places where maybe you don’t want typical souvenirs. Maybe you want to go someplace completely different and get something that is local craft or something that is handmade. There are a few boutiques in the nicer areas. One of the ones close to the Walt Disney World area is in Celebration, Florida, which is a town that Disney built.
We were looking, and we’ll put this on our show notes as well, there are places in there Crimson Belle, Collegiate Boutique (which is going to have college kind of stuff if you want it), get souvenirs from maybe University of Central Florida or the state university … all those universities.
There is an Enchanted Boutique, there’s an art gallery in there in case you are looking for some artwork, and this one kind of gets me. It’s a place called Once Upon A Time. There are a few places that are inside of Celebration. It’s a nice environment, it’s very clean, it’s a safe environment and it’s not too far away from the visitor areas you can go.
If you are willing to travel a bit, I would recommend going to Winter Park on Park Avenue. It’s going to be crowded on weekends. There’s a farmer’s market there on Sundays, but the nice part is it’s easily walkable. There are a lot of good restaurants around there and there are a lot of shops that are not corporate shops; they are kind of individually owned boutiques.
Lee: It’s just lovely. It’s beautiful with the little cobbled walkways.
William: It’s a really nice environment. So those are some of the places that if you are looking for souvenirs, you are going to find no shortage of them. There are plenty of souvenirs to find.
But if you are looking for something beyond the typical ones, you might want to visit Celebration. If you get to Winter Park, that’s also a good place to recommend.
We hope that that’s something that helps you.
If you are looking for other alternatives, one of the things that we talked about earlier were things you can do with your photos. So for example, if you are going to Walt Disney World or if you are going to Universal Studios, and I presume this is probably going to be the same at Sea World or some of the bigger parks, they have services there for making photos.
While you are in the park, while you are enjoying yourself then you can get those photos downloadable to you. But you can put them on a variety of products. I’m looking at some from Universal Studios right now. You can put your photos on anything from key chains to posters to beverage coasters, T shirts, tote bags, coffee mugs and this is the one I was talking about: They’ll even put them on your pillow cases and give you different sized sheets and duvet covers to put your photo on them!
Lee: That’s kind of interesting. I get it for kids. I do understand it for kids, but I’m looking at those double bed sizes and thinking …
William: I don’t know of a photo we have that I would want to put on our bedding! For kids I get it. It’s colorful, it’s bright and it’s something that will probably keep them up at night.
Lee: Let’s keep our bedding plain. Thank you!
William: Yeah! You can also put them on your iPhone case. As a matter of fact one of the sites that I like is called gelaskins.com. They will take your photos or other artwork that you have and they will put it on your phone, they’ll put it on your iPad or computer or a number of other things. You can make products out of your photos. Some of it is actually pretty cool.
It’s good, durable material that they use to put it on there. Basically, I don’t know if it’s quite vinyl, but it’s just a sticker that you put on. I’ve got one of my photos on the back of my iPad and it keeps it from getting scuffed up and protects it and it also makes it look a bit individualized. One of my photos from Cuba is back there.
William: So just a little bit of ‘what if’ in case you want to do something different besides getting the typical T shirt and baseball cap, or even a baseball.
Lee: Yes. I love making photo gifts and I will say that, although you are going to get good quality if you order through say for example Universal or Disney’s own website and you get them to make the photo products there and ship them. You are going to pay a premium though for the brand.
I have seen and physically held things that have been created there. The quality is great. I have never used the services because I’ve always managed to get good or better quality for a lower price and had more control over creating my products with other favorite online services elsewhere. I suppose it was easier for me because I’d experimented over a number of years and tried out different services and I got to know what worked for me and what I liked and didn’t like. You would also get the discount codes sometimes online as a repeat customer and that helped as well.
So when you are making a 100 page photo book – I mean that was what, $150?
William: Oh, that added up a lot.
Lee: That was $150 and that was not a Disney or Universal one. I shudder to think what I would have paid for that full sized book and I had some extras put onto the finish of the cover and logo removal and things. I don’t know what I would have paid through one of the big names, but it would have been a lot.
William: Oh yeah. You definitely pay a premium if you are going to get the name brand version of it. So it pays to use some of these other sites if you are going to take photographs and these days almost everybody has a smart phone or a really small portable camera, even up to your big DSLR’s. Take your photos and turn some of those into your vacation memories.
And of course, if you are going to get something that is a bit larger and bulkier and you are worried about packing it, I know in Celebration there is a UPS store. I think there is one near International Drive and just look around maybe if your hotel has it. Ship these things home.
Taking them home in your luggage sometimes can be a bit frustrating, not only for how much extra stuff you’ve got to pack inside your suitcase, but worrying if it’s fragile. When your suitcase is getting tossed around maybe it is not something you want to have thrown. So don’t forget that you can also ship your souvenirs home.
Lee: Also, if you don’t want to ship it and you do want to take it with you, shipping adds a cost onto it.
William: Especially if you are overseas.
Lee: I managed to take all my things in my suitcase in the checked baggage for most of the stuff and that included breakable items. Whenever I made a purchase I would ask them in the store, check it myself before I put it down at the register, and then I’d ask them to wrap it to fly.
They would do a good job and usually they wrap it very carefully and box it for you, which is great. Most places; not just at the theme parks. That is outside at the malls as well.
William: That’s true. They know most of their customers are travelers who are going to come here and fly – for the bulk of them anyways – and it’s just a common thing. So yeah, I’m glad you brought that up.
Lee: Even engraved glass tumblers and things, I’ve taken those things back wrapped and boxed and not a problem. Then I still shipped them through regular mail when we got back.
William: Well, we hope this helps you out. There are a lot of souvenirs in Orlando. There are a lot of choices. We have gone over a little bit of it, but we would love to know what you’ve picked up. And if you’ve got different ideas for souvenirs, leave us a comment in the show notes. You will be able to find this at orlandolocal.com/12
Thank you very much for listening to the Orlando Local Show, episode 12. We would love it if you would keep up with us on our social media. You can find us on Twitter we are @orlandolocal. On Instagram we are at orlando_local and on Facebook we have a page called Orlando Local and of course Pinterest we are Orlando Local. So really Instagram is the only one that messed us over.
Lee: Yes. Underscore. Dammit.
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Have a good one, everybody!